Americans supposedly don’t care about foreign policy, but they come absolutely unglued when it comes to “security.” Maybe they should make a connection between the two. I mean, security threats come more often from foreigners than from Front Street.
Writing before the debate, I expect Mr. Romney to attack President Obama for being “weak.” So what does Mr. Romney consider “strong”?
1. Mr. Romney is really, really enthusiastic about helping the Syrian rebels to oust Bashar Assad. Never mind that the GOP criticized Obama’s effort in Libya back in 2011. Never mind that they’ve been attacking the president for having American boots on the ground “in harm’s way.” Helping Syria now just sounds real nice. So, do we do it ourselves? Fly in, send over the troo… oops. Act of War. Another war. In the Middle East. Oh, brilliant.
Or, we can give lots of arms to the rebels. Uh-huh. Remember, not all the factions in Syria like us. I would have thought that finding our SCUDs being used against us in Afghanistan would be a good lesson in NOT handing out arms like trick-or-treats.
NATO helped in Libya, but they have cold feet this time. There’s such a mishmash of conflicting forces and splinter groups in Syria that NATO doesn’t seem to know which leg of the spider to pick it up by.
2. At the same time as Romney wants to help the Syrian rebels, the GOP is attacking Obama for the whole “Arab Spring” business. They say, Obama didn’t shore up our pet dictators, and now all those Arab countries are going straight to the radical jihadis. They mention Egypt and Libya in particular.
President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt is from the Muslim Brotherhood, true. However, the MB is not Al-Qaeda. They shun Al-Qaeda. The MB consider themselves moderates. They’ve been after fair and free elections since they were founded, back when Egypt had a king. Morsi won fairly, without even having Diebold rig the voting machines! Hotcha!
Mr. Obama understands little distinctions. Foreign policy is a lot about nuances, but neither Mr. Romney nor the GOP are good at nuances. Anyhow, to Romney and his ilk, Morsi’s election is a “failure” of Obama having approved (not even given any material support to) the Tahrir Square protesters.
So do we really want other nations having democracies? Because if we do, we have to accept that they’re free to make choices we might not feel particularly cozy about. Respecting their choices, whether we like them or not, will gain us respect in return. However, it seems Mr. Romney doesn’t believe in oppressed people ousting tyrants unless they become Egypto-Republicans.
In Libya, the death of Ambassador Stevens was a terrible tragedy. It showed us that even after peaceful elections, there are still radical groups there with more power than anyone realized. But are the Libyans eagerly flocking to the Jihadists? No, actually, after Mr. Stevens’s death, the Libyan people raised such a stink they forced their government to remove the radical leaders of some of the semi-wild militia groups. If grassroots democracy in Libya is becoming empowered enough to take on radical forces, THAT’S progress!
Now for the biggie: Iran. I’m going to write more about that later but for now I’ll just mention that Mr. Romney first said that Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons, and then he said the Israelis should attack if it looked as if Iran might get the capability for weapons, and now he’s flipped back to merely “having nuclear weapons.” Seems he really likes the idea of attacking them, doesn’t he?
Mr. Romney has said he would “respect Israel’s right to bomb Iran.” This is a popular GOP position. Earlier this year the GOP tried to pass a law giving Israel the right to attack whenever they choose, whether Iran has a nuke or not. Never mind that the USA would get the blame. Never mind that the Pentagon has said 1) the USA would most likely be “dragged into a war,” and 2) war with Iran would be “disastrous.” Incidentally, the price of oil would skyrocket. (Though many of the super-rich have demonstrated that they don’t give a fig how many wars we get into; the higher the price at the pump, the more they make. And their sons usually aren’t in the military.)
As of Sunday, the Iranians have announced that they’re willing to talk. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel immediately said the Iranians are only trying to “delay.” Well, if we never talked because it could be a “delay” we’d never talk to anyone.
The new talks would be the first time we’ve negotiated directly with Iran since 1979. This is historic, but Mr. Romney is sure to call direct talks “weak” and “misguided.”
President Obama is aware of the consequences of any attacks. Sometimes it takes more backbone to NOT get into an unnecessary fight than to charge in, six-shooters blazing, or to bluster and sabre-rattle.
Mr. Obama managed to stand up to Netanyahu when the Israelis tried to bully him into letting Israel bomb Iran. Remember the fuss? Netanyahu obviously thought Obama was in a tough position, needed the Jewish vote, needed AIPAC money, and would cave in to his nutty demands for a “red line.” So Obama stood up to ALL THAT, and that’s “weak”? That takes cojones, my friends.
Incidentally, I would have thought that trying to “Speak Peace unto the Nations” was a more Christian attitude than blithely bombing people with whom we aren’t at war. But I’m only a Quaker.
Lastly, as Zbigniew Brzezinski once pointed out, if you have this much irresponsible escalation and brash talk, there is a real danger some hothead will do something stupid and get us into a war by accident.
So, what do we want? “Strong” fiery bluster with a chance of another war, or a strong cool head? Take your pick.